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[community profile] jukebox_fest revealed its stories!

I got an awesome fic for David Bowie's "Starman".

Do Rock Stars Come From Outer Space? (1220 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Starman - David Bowie (Song)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Original Character/Original Character
Characters: Johnny (The Narrator), Claire, Claire's Father, The DJ, The Starman
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - 1970s, Science Fiction, Rock Stars, Glam Rock, Gender Identity, Romance, Hopeful Ending

Rock stars are too beautiful to be mere human beings. They must be aliens...

Find the rest of the stories in the collection here.
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
Dear Jukebox Author,

Apparently you've asked the mod for some more prompting! That's fine. I would have been fine seeing whatever you came up with without it, but if you want some ideas, here's some thoughts on the things I like about the songs I requested.

Starman - David Bowie (Song)

I love it so much for its devastating false messianism. Ziggy has so much promise, so much charisma and belief and hope, and then he comes up against the reality that the world isn't ready for him and it destroys him. And the connection between music and faith- his messianic end times message is "Let the children boogie." The world changing power of rock and roll music. :D

Werewolf Bar Mitzvah - Parsonsfield (Song)

One of 30 Rock's better one-off jokes, the idea of Tracy Jordan singing a novelty song about a werewolf bar mitzvah is so surreally inspired. The chorus has a wonderful bit of wordplay that connects the idea of a werewolf to the idea of bar mtizvah as being centered on the locus of the idea of change and transformation, which is a shockingly deep insight for a throwaway joke on a sitcom. Parsonsfield's bluegrass cover adds another confusing layer of cultural-mismatch on top.

Werewolves of London - Warren Zevon (Song)

I pretty much only requested this because I wanted to request two songs about werewolves. The great idea behind this song, though, is that werewolves are so typically elemental to a gothic literature, with a heightened, constricted sense of place. Werewolves of London degothics the werewolf, transplants them to a mundane world and wrestles with their mundane desires.

Extraordinary Machine - Fiona Apple (Song)

This song is a marvel of wordplay and phrasing, and it's one of the songs that feels like it could use a good classic Jukebox literal interpretation of the lyrical metaphors. Treating it as a song where the narrator actually is a robot seems like a fun idea. A loveable failbot of a robot.

Monster Ballads - Josh Ritter (Song)

Also mostly requested to pair with my two werewolf requests (the actual monster ballads), because I am silly like that, but seriously, this song is great. It handles American history with such a gentle familiarity. It OWNS American history, in all its grim glory, with the kind of confidence that can only come from having dwelt on its darkest recesses and come to terms with them.

Feel free to take anything of this that you wish, and ignore the rest!

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[community profile] fic_corner isn't happening this year- instead hh will be hosting a children's TV exchange called [community profile] youcandothatinfanfiction. I won't be participating, as I don't feel all that fannish about children's TV.

[community profile] fic_corner's not the only exchange to try this alternating related exchanges approach. [community profile] invisible_ficathon is trying something similar, and I likewise didn't participate in the Lost Library iteration of the exchange. It's a little frustrating as a model to me, because I figure it has to reduce overall participation in the sub-exchanges and make it harder to the exchange to build momentum and community. Invisible Ficathon's 60 works went down to 30 works for Lost Library. But I guess we'll see what happens. Hopefully if the mods run Invisible Ficathon again, the people like me who left will come back.

[community profile] jukebox_fest stories revealed!

I received a really sweet, nostalgic "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" fic:

don't know where I'm going (1389 words) by evewithanapple
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard (Song)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply

Most of the people who live there now probably never heard about what happened back in the day.

I judge based on the narrator's choice of beer that she is Rosie, the so-called 'queen of Corona'. There is a petty and parochial part of me that is irked that this version does not acknowledge the most likely actual explanation of that line, which is that Rosie is a major community figure in Corona Park, Queens, NY. But that part of me is overwhelmed by the part of me that just enjoys Rosie's incisive, sentimental mythologizing.

I wrote an 8675309 dystopia taking my recip's suggestion that the number might be some sort of registration number. In general I did my normal Jukebox thing of taking a non-genre song and writing an extremely tropey SF story.

number on the wall (1378 words) by seekingferret
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: 867-5309 / Jenny - Tommy Tutone (Song)
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence, Major Character Death
Characters: Jenny (8675309)

Jenny don't change that number, he says, bafflingly.

I have mixed feelings about this story. Except for the first two hundred words and the last thirty, this was written in a half hour sprint the day before stories were due. It was really good writing, one of those moments where you just have the right words, and it was helped by a computer crash that lost me my first pass, because I got to rewrite those inspired words even more sharply. Still, the time pressure wasn't all positive, I think. The story has an unsettling brutality to it that comes from its abrupt, economical pacing. This was partially by design, but it was also a necessary economy driven by timing. I didn't have time in the story to dwell on backstory or detail, but I also didn't have time to think up backstory or detail. The last thirty words written, the paragraph beginning "She thinks of the office, of her job with Jefferson Accounting." was written after the submission deadline in order to back off the brutality of the ending just enough. I'm not certain I did it right, but the comments, particularly [personal profile] morbane's, suggest the pacing worked well enough. I dunno, the story works, so I shouldn't be too bothered by my bad process.

I need to get out of the habit of writing exchange fics in half-hour bursts the day before they're due, though. I've been really out of writing of late, defaulting on [community profile] purimgifts, which still bothers me. I need to get back to writing. I'm hoping that some of the advice and ideas from Balticon will help with that.
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
Dear Jukebox Author,

I do not write useful dear author letters. So seriously, write whatever the fuck you want to. It is what I, too, will be doing.

My signups, for reference and with a few thoughts:

Young Moses - Josh Ritter (Song)

-I have a failed messiah fetish. I love songs about the people we invest unreasonable hopes for salvation into, how they struggle with those expectations and how they fulfill those expectations in unexpected ways. This song is a wonderful mishmash of Americana and Biblical lore, as is typical throughout this Ritter album. One of the glorious secrets of the failed messiah narrative is the discovery of the human traits that make us see messianic capability in an ordinary human being. compares this song to a Mike Fink brag, and it's the elasticity between the phenomenal capabilities of the human soul and the outlandish abilities we assign only to God that build up so wonderful a tension in this song.

Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard - Simon & Garfunkel (Song)

-I think ideally I'd like a story that continues the ellision of what the Mama Saw. I do not want a story that explains the mysterious language of the song, because it is so gloriously ambiguous and that is a major part of what makes it a great song.

Fangless - Sleater-Kinney (Song)

-SK is not the band it was a decade ago. They're much more interested in melody than they were back then, but I do not think that makes them fangless. I think there's a lot that can be done with taking this song literally and telling a story about its once glorious subject.

Five Years - David Bowie (Song)

-RIP David Bowie. I've been requesting songs from Ziggy Stardust nearly every year Jukebox has run. As I said, I have a failed messiah fetish. This year, the poignancy of Ziggy seems particularly acute, how Bowie's sheer charisma and musical talent promised- and sometimes delivered- a new era when music made you dance and think.

The Ash Grove - Britten/Oliphant (Song)

-Just go wild, full on melodrama is called for here.
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
For the [community profile] jukebox_fest song-based fanfiction exchange, my assignment fic was for Courtney Barnett's "Pedestrian at Best". I discovered Barnett's music about two weeks before Jukebox- I think her new album is fantastic and I think "Pedestrian at Best" is a phenomenal song, channeling a hefty dose of Nirvana and filtering it through Barnett's own perverse sense of humor.

It was tricky to figure out how to fic it, though. It's not a song about a plot, it's a song about a character, and I needed to find a scenario that character could realistically inhabit.

Project Origami Money (1189 words) by seekingferret
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Pedestrian at Best- Courtney Barnett
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Original Characters

Give me all your money, and I'll make some origami, honey

I wrote three different partial story drafts, including one where the pedestrian at best character was a mediocre robot, a comic parody of a Three Laws robot. There's a lot of mechanical imagery in the song, and it was a fun idea but I couldn't break the plot. In the end, I wrote a story about a ridiculous tax dodge as art installation.

[personal profile] morbane's comment on the story is intriguing- she wonders if the whole art installation is a scam of some sort. To which I would say that regardless, somebody is being scammed in this story, either the IRS or the investors, and I'm not entirely sure who.

I am not an expert on tax law and I did not do any research in order to write this story, except for a couple back of the envelope calculations about the space taken up by various amounts of money and paper. That said, I do not believe this tax scheme would actually work under current law, and if it did, it would immediately be criminalized. That's not really the point.

The point is that there is a constant and sometimes difficult relationship between commerce and art and government, because we (mostly rightly, I think) believe that art is deserving of protections from government interference, but this means that sometimes when commercial entities create art, they thereby gain protections from legitimate government regulation. There is no good clean way to adjudicate the boundaries of art and commerce, which means we must make balancing decisions about the virtues of art and commerce constantly in the grey areas.

Presently in America we are debating the question of whether money is speech. Of course it is not, and yet there is no way to regulate money universally without infringing on speech. And so we might burn money in the name of art.

And yet... art must, I think at least, have aesthetic interests. One of the jokes of this story is the deliberate anti-art aesthetic of the final exhibition. Anti-art is still an aesthetic, I think, though a difficult one to appreciate, and therefore a difficult one to create well. I do think that the story's punchline works because Hester has something worth saying, but she hasn't found a sufficiently elegant way to say it. And that particular phenomenon is something that all viewers of 21st century art are familiar with.

As a pinch hit, I wrote a story as well for Josh Ritter's beautiful "The Temptation of Adam". It's the second time I have ficced this song, which is why I felt comfortable claiming the pinch hit. The first was The Last Temptation of Eve, which I wrote for Yuletide five years ago. Both times, I wrote the story in under two hours from idea to completion... It's clear that this song has been resonating in my head for a long time.

I was also heavily influenced in this story by having recently read Alan Beyerchen's fasinating Scientists under Hitler: Politics and the physics community in the Third Reich, which looked at the Nazi push to create a Deutschephysik purified of Jewish influence, and the resistance of the German scientific community. The first three paragraphs of the fic bubbled up purely from my ruminations on that book, but I think they set the stage for what follows quite effectively.

What follows is a story that amplifies the moral ambiguity and tension of desire that makes the original song so mesmerizing. The Atom Bomb is a thing which since its creation has been associated, even or especially by its creators, with the usurpation of God's domain by Humankind. Our corresponding uncertainty about the power is about our mistrust of our ability to live Godly lives. Ritter's primary Biblical correspondence is to Adam and Eve and the serpent in the Garden, but surely there is also a parallel to God in John 3:16, who so loved the world that he sacrificed his son for it. Adam so loves Marie that he contemplates sacrificing the world for her. And meanwhile, is she sacrificing the world for him?

The Uncertainty Principle (1080 words) by seekingferret
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Temptation of Adam - Josh Ritter (Song)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Marie/Narrator (Last Temptation of Adam)
Characters: Marie (Last Temptation of Adam), Narrator (Last Temptation of Adam)

Only the tough will claw their way to the afterlife: the Ouroboros Society motto.

Meanwhile, the gift I received was a wonderfully funny, absurd "Dark Fantasy" fic. Kanye builds this scenario out of dense allusive images, and this story expands those images out to give each component room to express itself separately. Kanye sings "Mercy, Mercy Me- Murcielago" for the sound of it, but he manages to conjure a contrast between the artistry of the African-American music of Kanye's childhood and the conspicuous consumption of contemporary hip hop, between history and living in the moment, between doing something bad for the right reasons and doing something good for the wrong ones. The fic just has a Lambo that sings Marvin Gaye.

The result is something a lot bigger than you would expect it to be, which maintains the humor and irony of the original and also manages to keep the sense of social purpose that is curiously present in all of Kanye's most seemingly unserious work.

Twisted Fiction (2758 words) by merryghoul
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Dark Fantasy - Kanye West (Song)
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Kanye West, Lucifer, Steve Urkel, Original Characters, Original Non-Human Character(s), Headless Horseman
Additional Tags: Spells & Enchantments, Cutting, Blood, Blow Jobs, Surreal, High School, Army, Shopping Malls, Heroin, Going to Hell, Hallucinations, Recreational Drug Use, Faustian Bargain

Kanye can't believe all of this is happening to him. Or is it?

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[community profile] jukebox_fest is due Wednesday, my time. I finished my first draft last night... should be able to polish it by Wednesday, but time is a bit limited by social demands.

Debating [community profile] invisible_ficathon. Didn't nominate, but there are plenty of things I might be able to write that were? Except I don't really feel like this is a good exchange for me. It's my kind of writing, but not the kind of writing I can toss off an emergency response for in a day if I end up stuck. I basically need to luck into a prompt that really inspires me or I'll be screwed, so probably will pass.

I never actually mentioned it here, but I got a netflix subscription so I could watch Daredevil. I... liked it. I didn't love it. I thought the balance it struck between realism and comic bookness was a little off. But I loved its perplexing Fake New York-centrism. The Awl really nailed the problem with Daredevil's version of Hell's Kitchen, but on the other hand, I really admired the show's commitment to exploring the small scale consequences of Avengers 1 in relationship to New York's actual long-term history of conflict between developers and tenants, even if it meant constructing a fantasy version of Hell's Kitchen. I also thought Foggy/Ben was a much better ship than Ben/Karen, and therefore was frustrated by the final shot of the season.

After finishing Daredevil, I moved on to Arrow, and have now watched the full Season 1 of the show. Which bears comparison to Daredevil, in many ways. I have a lot of thoughts about "You have failed this city" and Oliver's general usage of 'my city' in his guise as the Hood. I'm grateful that the show does push back a few times with people telling him not to use the possessive, but it's not enough. Oliver's life is way too disconnected from the ordinary life of the city for it to really be his in a spiritual sense, so the possessiveness comes off too often as an aristocratic sense of ownership. Knowing the place to get the best burger in the Glades does not somehow equate to belonging to the Glades. Fundamentally, though, the show recognizes this. Oliver is not only not a hero quite often, but he's not even aware of what's going on in 'his city'. I really admire the writers for letting Oliver fail so often, and for letting him sometimes even deserve to fail. I'm not sure how I am expected to feel, however, at the end of one of the many episodes where Oliver does succeed, after indiscriminately killing a crowd of faceless, nameless drug dealers or security guards. Arrow often struggles to fully articulate the mechanics by which a crime slips past the eyes of the legal system and into the purview of vigilante justice. I'm not saying necessarily that there shouldn't be a set of such mechanics, but I would like to see them elucidated more clearly by Oliver. I'd like to see Diggle and Felicity (or Laurel and Quentin, or Huntress and Dark Archer) force Oliver to articulate them. It would make the show much more effective as a meditation on the limits of justice.

Lastly, I am reading Kevin J. Anderson's The Dark Between the Stars, as it was in fact nominated for the Hugo for best novel, regardless of the circumstances. I am 250 pages in and I am loathing it. I've been bitching about this book in #yuletide for the past week. KJA's writing instincts just seem totally off. He routinely fails on basic narrative details. This one might be the most infuriating, but it's typical of a whole class of error:

Lee Iswander is frantic with worry and heartache after a natural disaster ruined his business and killed many of his employees. His wife offers to bring him his favorite food for lunch. In an internal monologue, he wonders what his favorite food is, if he even has one, if his wife knows what it is. A page later, his wife brings him food, and... the narrative does not tell us what the food is, or whether or not it's his favorite. It just says that she brought him food. I'm a hundred pages later and I am still obsessing over Lee Iswander's favorite food. It's such a confusing oversight. It's a six hundred page novel, why would you leave it out?
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
Dear Jukebox Hero,

I don't really know what to say in this letter. My taste in musical is pretty broad and I have tended to classify my overriding interest to be the 'glorious failure'. I like music that is ambitious, even if it doesn't always completely hang together. And I like music that tells stories, and I like thinking about what stories mean.

Dark Fantasy - Kanye West (Song)

Such a brilliant song, such a brilliant calling card for Kanye. It's about Kanye as Producer as much as it is about Kanye as Rapper- Kanye doesn't see himself as a performer so much as he sees himself as a Creator, I think, and this song is all about staking out all of that territory.

I'm not expecting RPF, certainly, but I would figure it's impossible to totally erase Kanye's shadow from this song. But I particularly love the final verse, with its macabre visions of devils in unlikely places, and I would love a story that fleshed out that prophetic 'fantasy'.

Rincon - Dan Bern (Song)

My new favorite baseball song, it's about a person making an almost religious pilgrimage to a small California seaside town to try to catch a glimpse of their tarnished hero, Barry Bonds. Bonds is making his own pilgrimage in search of 'the magic cure', the medical or pseudomedical or outright fake treatment that promises to once more prolong his improbable and ambiguous baseball career.

Bridges and Balloons - Joanna Newsom (Song)

I think this is practically the perfect ode to wanderlust and the adventuring spirit, and I just love how Newsom's language informs the shape of her dreamscape.

The Sprawl - Sonic Youth (Song)

I'm interested in its vague connections to the Gibsonverse, which takes what would otherwise be a passionate. grounded, specific Kim Gordon lyric, a lyric that seems pretty clearly to be about Sonic Youth's New York environs, and gives it a broader science fictional context.

The Singer Addresses His Audience - The Decemberists (Song)

I'm not really sure what I'm looking for. An explication of the wedding incident? A grounding of the surreality of these lyrics in the reality of the Decemberists' grappling with fame? Another story about The Singer?

Chips Ahoy - The Hold Steady (Song)

I love how this is basically a Ray Bradbury story in song form, a little miniature fantasy about a girl who can predict the future and uses it to win gambling on horse races and score drugs.

Foreign Object - The Mountain Goats (Song)

If you choose to write for this song, I personally will stab you in the eye with a foreign object.

seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
I don't have as much to say about the other story I wrote for Jukebox.

Fixing a Memory (2437 words) by seekingferret
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Nuit d'ivresse - Hector Berlioz (Song)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Aeneas/Dido
Characters: Dido of Carthage, Aeneas
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - Modern Setting

Ah, doomed young love. There's nothing like it in the world.

Basically I have "Les Troyens" feels and writing this fic consisted of me frantically spewing them all over the page. I listened to different versions of "Nuit D'Ivresse" 23 times while writing this story, and I still crack up every time Mercury pops up to cockblock Aeneas. Quillori asked for a story that was aware of the impending doom of the relationship, and so I wrote one where my lovers were extremely aware, and yet trying as hard as they could to deny it.

I should also talk about my gifts. I am so lucky to have received two wonderful stories.

Do Not Tap On The Glass (1071 words) by El Staplador
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Aquarium - Camille Saint-Saens
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Original Character, Fish - Character
Additional Tags: POV Second Person, Present Tense, Creepy

Perhaps it isn't such a good idea to bring the ocean onto the land. Perhaps it's better to keep the two separate. Perhaps it's a very bad idea to tap on the glass.

This is the one that proves that I was right and Morbane was wrong, and programmatic instrumental music belongs in Jukebox. This story is marvelous at sustaining the emotional feel of Saint-Saens's music while telling a spooky, eerie story about the world just on the other side of the glass (and I felt that, given the importance of The Glass as a fannish metaphor, it was brilliant to center the glass as the boundary line in this story).

Holy Kiss (227 words) by Missy
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Judas - Lady Gaga (Song)
Rating: Mature
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Judas/Jesus/Mary Magdalene
Characters: Judas (Lady Gaga), Mary Magdalane (Lady Gaga)
Additional Tags: Drabble, Reincarnation, Beginnings

Time's got them stuck in a holding pattern. This a new one for her, but she'll deal.

This is a drabble-y thing about the bullshit I scribbled at the last minute as a prompt for Lady Gaga's "Judas". I didn't really know why I was requesting "Judas", so I babbled something about how the modern recasting of the Jesus-Judas-Magdalene triangle implied some sort of cyclic nature of the dynamic, and this fic takes that concept and gleefully runs with it.

Thanks to my authors, thanks to my recipients, and thanks to Morbane for running Jukebox!
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
Time for Jukebox reveal! I must confess a certain bemusement with the way this story emerged. This was not a song I knew before this challenge- I listened to it when it was nominated, found myself tolerantly amused by it, and decided on a whim to offer it, without any idea of where a story might go if I actually matched on it.

The day I got the assignment, I wrote the following snippet:

I met the Gambler on a train once. You know, the one from the song.

I said to him, "Hey, buster, I've listened to that song a hundred times, and it's terrible advice. You meet this guy and you're about to die. You tell him things that you think he ought to know, like "when to hold 'em", but you don't tell him how to learn these things. I'm not letting you out of here until you tell me HOW to know when to hold 'em." He refused, so I shot him.

I didn't know where to go from there. I imagined writing a story where my narrator shot a succession of characters from songs, for a variety of critiques, a story completely madcap, its lack of genre its defining feature, and eventually rejected the idea, but some of that narrator's rhetorical pose of brutish, philosophical toughness definitely endured in the narrator I did end up writing.

This is what I wrote instead:

Have Spacesuit (5114 words) by seekingferret
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Kill Your Heroes - AWOLNATION (Song)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Original Characters

It began six months earlier. Our whole crew was working as freelance astrologers in Tampa, hacking into NASA satellites to get the inside scoop on the cosmological phenomena that really predicted the future. It wasn't the most glamorous work, but the money was fantastic.

"Have Spacesuit" was driven by a literal interpretation of the second verse's musings about the Earth hypothetically being destroyed some day as a motivation for carpe diem. It was also inspired, as last year's fic was inspired by Monster of the Week shows like Supernatural, Buffy, and the like, by a group of somewhat obscure SF stories: Ben Bova's Rock Rats series and Sam Gunn series, John Varley's Red Thunder series, Brian Francis Slattery's Spaceman Blues, even [though I'm loath to credit it, since Harrison's prose is an embarrassment to the genre] Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat cycle: stories about a future that still has people living on the margins of society, scraping by with ingenuity by seizing opportunities more fortunate people are blind to. Guardedly optimistic tales of the future of the 99%, if you will.

These stories, by the way, are the reason I hate the typical anti-meme that people throw around in response to the stupid meme about how SF used to be optimistic and is now full of dark futures. Battlestar Reboot and Star Trek TOS are typical stick figures of the argument, and so critics of the meme usually attack Star Trek by pointing to its progressive blind spots, its tedious storytelling, its bad acting and aggressive moralizing. This is a terrible argument that tears down our genre needlessly. Instead, the response to the stupidity of pining for Star Trek should be to point to writers like Bova, Varley, Slattery, to writers like Ken McLeod and Justina Robson and Melissa Scott and Charles Stross [and in the Star Trek era, people like Fred Pohl and Bob Silverberg] who write optimistically about disastrous futures. But I digress.

This story gets its start in 'the shadow economy', people skating dubious ethical and legal lines just to survive. If it takes anything important from the song that inspired it, it's the notion of opposition between normal people, the ideations of the song, and 'heroes', who are somehow another class altogether. I built this contrast on a simplified take on the complex relationship between the highly educated NASA workers on the Cape and the dirty Florida towns that surround it, drawing much inspiration from the junkyard astronauts of the Varley series I mentioned, not to mention the Drive-By Truckers' bitter Huntsville ballad "Puttin' People on the Moon". But much more than a political story, this is a story about people, people I attempted with every trick of trope subversion I know to sketch as vividly as possible in as few words as possible. Polo, who knows people in ways the narrator finds inexplicable, Karen the midwestern physicist who likes action movies, Selim, who studied interior decorating, Richard, who can't stay off the comms, Galina, who knows things the way Polo knows people... They were all a blast to imagine and I was as happy as my narrator that they got to survive. But my narrator was the best part. I still couldn't tell you my narrator's name, gender, occupation, sexual orientation, height, skin color, age, level of education... the thing that built this narrator was a little intentionality and a lot of bravado, and the idea of obscuring the things about identity that a narrator assumes about themself so deeply that they don't imagine needing to explain them. I hope people assume that my narrator is male and are shocked to find he is queer at the end. I hope people assume my narrator is female and are pleased by how much separation she has from 'female narratives'. I hope people build all sorts of working hypotheses about my narrator's identity that the story refuses to confirm, or actively rejects.

The morality underpinning this story is emphatically not mine. If I learned what my Zeroes did, I would not keep that information secret and steal a NASA spacecraft. But it's fun to imagine I would.

P.S. I'm sorry for the terrible science in this story. I feel bad about that, but if I were going to write this story as hard SF it would have been a novel.
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
Dear Jukebox Hero,

Thanks for writing a story for me! As I say in virtually all of my letters, I have notoriously bad taste and you should really try to write a story you will enjoy writing instead of trying to cater to my taste. But here's some thoughts on the songs I have requested.

Aquarium - Camille Saint-Saens (Song)

So I requested this because I would have felt bad not requesting a programmatic instrumental after spending so much time campaigning for them to be eligible, and also because "Aquarium" is such a fascinating piece of music. It's full of darkness and mystery and the wonder of the life aquatic. I'm interested in the question of perspective... is it fish-eye point of view, or has some invader from the land made their way into the Aquarium and attempted to unravel its secrets? I think maybe the music could accommodate both.

Chips Ahoy - The Hold Steady (Song)

This song feels like a Ray Bradbury short story in song form. Also, with a little more sex and drugs, but only a little. I'm interested in backstory on the girl, post-song fic about the narrator, and generally anything that gives the ambitious vagueness of a Craig Finn lyric a little more solidity.

"Dark Fantasy" by Kanye West

I didn't really know Kanye at all before this album, and still really don't know his music well. But the buzz made me check it out, and I was astounded by the inventiveness and musicality. With this song, I'm most transfixed by his encounter with the Devil in a Chrysler LeBaron... The majestic banality of that moment is what Kanye is talking about. Kanye's struggle as an incredibly rich celebrity is so removed from most peoples' lives, yet he manages to bring it down to a level we can follow: Temptation. Temptation is what brings Kanye down among the common people, struggling with the same kinds of doubts and desires as anyone else even in his rarefied, gothic fantasy world.

Starman by David Bowie

So last year I requested "Five Years", and in a sense I'm fishing for the same thing as that request, fic that explores the tragic false messianism of Ziggy Stardust. Of course, this song doesn't actually literally mention Ziggy, and by the rules of the exchange that means you're not beholden to any of the canon on the rest of the album. That's actually why I requested this song instead of "Five Years"- to allow you to also tap into Dar Williams's alternate canon for the song, from her bizarre cover version. I'd be interested in something that only pulls from the Ziggy stuff, something that only pulls from the 5 minutes to the New Millennium stuff, something that tries to merge them, something that doesn't use any of it and just treats the song as a solitary piece of canon, whatever you want.

Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway) - Billy Joel (Song)

I'm someone who has a lot of New York City feelings and this song is just a song about people having New York City feelings, so it's pretty great. The specifics of the song are pretty goofy, and yet weirdly specific. I like the idea that it's Miami, the place where masses of expat New Yorkers retire to, that coalesces as a sort of NYC 2.0. Also, I really am fascinated by the moment that Joel focuses on, where NYC is doomed and everyone has recognized this fact, and yet somehow they have enough time to say goodbye one last time before it is destroyed.

Judas - Lady Gaga (Song)

I'm interested in something cyclic, that plays with the idea that the Judas-Jesus-Magdalene triangle is something that repeats again and again through history and that Gaga as Magdalene is just the latest reinvention of a pattern that never goes away.

Anyway, thanks again!



seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)

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